Tourists to New Zealand could find themselves looking at the landscape through the windows of all-electric mini-buses – that’s if plans by Chinese van company LDV fall into place.
Its distributor here is importing zero-emission versions of the V80 cargo van for long-time specialist NZ company Jackson Enterprises to convert into mini-buses.
“We’re bringing them in as an electric cargo van,” said LDV marketing manager Warren Willmot (above). “Jackson Enterprises will manufacture them to PSV standards – that’s Passenger Service Vehicle.
“They will put in seating for 10 passengers, headlining, carpet, windows, cargo barrier, electric step … it will be a beautifully finished all-electric mini-bus, with plenty of cargo space. We are taking orders now with the idea to supply in November.”
The mini-bus donor vehicle, the EV80 cargo van, and its electric drivetrain will be on show in Auckland this weekend at evworld, New Zealand’s first exhibition of electric vehicles.
The diesel-powered V80 cargo van is already on the roads here. The EV80 joins the LDV carry-all fleet and is priced from around $80,000. Willmot said the converted mini-bus version will cost “somewhere under $100,000.”
Apart from the ‘zero emission’ livery, the EV80 cargo van looks all the world like the diesel version. The only visible giveaway – on hands and knees – is the battery compartment slung under the floor. The cabin hasn’t changed much either, except for EV changes to the instrument panel.
It’s under the bonnet where the obvious difference lies. LDV is the van arm of the giant SAIC Motor Corporation, China’s biggest carmaker.
The badged SAIC electric motor (pictured) is hooked up to the 56kW-h lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack.
SAIC says the pack can be fully charged in two hours, whereupon it’s good for a range of around 190km. LDV’s Willmot, however, says he expects the real-world range to be between 150-180km.
Willmot believes an ideal role for the mini-bus conversion is as an airport shuttle bus. But it isn’t the only application for the EV80.
“We’ve had strong interest for the van from the courier vehicle industry,” he said. “We found that inner-city couriers average around 120km a day. That’s well within the EV80’s range.”
LDV is also importing the cab/chassis version of the EV80. “It’s such a versatile vehicle, it can be built into anything,” said Willmot. “We have one company considering turning it into a garbage truck; another into motor homes; another into electric curtain-siders.”